Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tin Roof musical treats..

An unplanned evening often is the best kind.

My buddy came by and we decided to go eat at Yo Bo Cantina in Park Circle.

It is well known for its big, fat, and tasty burritos and its large Mason jars of MargaRitas. During happy hour, they are extra reasonable and not too bad the rest of the night.

I sipped an IPA beer and noshed on the chips and guacamole platter as my buddy worked his way through a veggie Burrito-in-a-bowl.


Then he remembered there was a 2-act show at the Tin Roof, so we headed there, arriving just as the first act -local Lily Slay - finished her sound check.

Naturally, I snapped a few photos with my cell phone.
As stated, this was not a planned event so my camera had stayed at home.

I have enjoyed comic and singer Lily Slay several times before when she teamed up with Mackie Boles and they perform as the Royal Tinfoil.

Tonight Lily was solo and opening for her friend Lara Hope, down from New York and ending a grueling regional tour with 3 weeks to go.

By herself - well, with a drummer backing her - I was thinking back to when I had met Mama Cass Elliott on a set at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

Miss Elliott was starring in a film on the lot and I was a publicist at the time.

Tonight was a mix of comedy and song and I laughed while sipping a beer when she sang an original love song about a wish to make love with a friend's father. A strange May/December relationship if there ever was one

Lara Hope, the headliner, and her 3-piece band took the stage.

She was a whirling figure, in her black cowboy hat, her dress and even her boots were fringed.

Yes, the boots were black and fringed. A cowgirl from the Bronx!

Both ladies had fans who showed their support, loudly singing along, dancing and clapping.

I had worn a t-shirt that said MARINES and a fellow seated next to me at the bar, asked if I were a Marine? He had been one too and offered to buy me and my buddy a beer.

I accepted and added that I was probably more "Old Corps" than he.

We swapped dates we had served and I had him beat by at least 20 years. Both of us had served only a four-year hitch.

As we drank our beers, I noted he was sipping a $2 PBR while we were enjoying a $7 IPA.

I quietly asked Johnny the bartender to not only let me pay for the next Pabst Blue Ribbon for my new former Marine friend but also a meal if he happened to order food.

I wanted to close that gap between what he paid and my effort in returning the favor.

Glancing at the "merch table" for Lara Hope, I saw a posted lyric that I found amusing.

Wouldn't you know it, that was part of the song she sang at the close of her performance.

I hope she and her group safely finished their long, extended tour on the road.

It reminded me that they were "down South" while her hometown suffered through a third Nor'Easter in less than 10 days of blizzard conditions and flooding.

Kind of a good time to "be on the road again."

(Click on the photos and links for more details.) 

Thanks for hanging out with me for some cold suds and music.

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Friday, March 02, 2018

The BIG fire of 1955...

Here is a "memory-flogger from 1955. It is part of Charleston's history and I was directly involved - well, at least in my dad's mind. 

Let me explain.

I was a 17-year old Junior at Bishop England High School, spending the day on  Sullivan's Island.
When we guys saw the smoke billowing up from downtown, there was a mad dash to hop in the car and race home over the 2-lane Cooper River bridge.

Living in Ansonborough on Society Street, I was fairly close to the fire near Queen and East Bay Streets so I jogged on over there. 
I saw other teenagers were helping firefighters "pull hoses" so I joined in to help.

Meanwhile, my dad too saw the thick black smoke and heard all the fire equipment racing past our house. 

He walked down to the waterfront to see what was going on.
  Other buddies from BEHS were assisting the firefighters and my dad saw one he knew and asked if he had seen me.

"Yes, he's right around the corner...under a blanket."

Technically, he was right. 

Like most of us, my eyes were stinging from the acrid smoke and a fireman had squeezed an ointment in my eyes, handed me a CFD blanket and told me to take a break. So I did.

My dad saw me, rushed up and hugged me tightly. Then he yelled at me ....for scaring him!

That ended my participation in "fighting the fire" and we slowly walked back home, agreeing we would not tell my mom what had raced through his mind.

Here's my photo the next year at the BEHS Junior-Senior dance. My hair no longer smelled of smoke.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Two "Martins," no waiting....

Steve Martin, onstage at the PAC (Performing Arts Center), said he remembered the unique Continental seating here in North Charleston.

It was designed in Europe, hence the name "Continental."

Wide, curving, long rows with soft, comfortable seats - but no center aisle. It was created for people who never had to pee during a performance.

I had had that thought many times!

It was understood - and announced - that Steve and Martin Short did
not want any recordings during the show so I took a chance and snapped a few still pictures. 

But, no video.

My phone cam does not take good telephotos so I apologize for the lack of sharpness of this quick photo.

They both darted around the stage a lot so it was a challenge to catch them close together and relatively still.

The banter seemed harsh at first but then Marty Short explained they were exchanging "Hollywood" compliments.

They sound sincere but each ends with a caustic comment. 

Here was a surprise, Steve Martin came onstage with a banjo!

The real surprise - and a nice one for people further back - was the big screen behind them acting as a Jumbotron.

I was in row "J" that meant I was about 12 or 13 rows away so I had a good view.

Billed as both “A Night You’ll Forget for the Rest of Your Life” and “See Them Before They’re Dead!”, the duo proved to have as much zip and relevance as ever as they told jokes, sang songs and reflected upon their lives in show business.

The pair first met 30 years ago on the set of “Three Amigos,” which, of course, was given a nice little tribute as three audience members were brought up on stage and taught the famous Amigos Salute.
Trading barbs and funny comments, they took turns alone on stage and Steve was accompanied by The Steep Canyon Rangers as he and his banjo teamed with a manic fiddle player for a bit of Bluegrass.
Short darted off and onstage in several different personas, the most elaborate as a baby-size Jiminy Glick with his zany and caustic comments.
This time he was NOT wearing a fat suit and appeared as a babe-in-arms held by Steve Martin.
Yes, you really had to be there!
For those not familiar with the Glick character, I have included a link. You have to experience one of his interviews. The one I included is with Mel Brooks.
He also appeared onstage as a busty cowgirl to sing along with Steve on banjo.
There were several standing ovations during the show and even a "comedy encore" at the end.
When they finished, they bowed and went into the wings where they were met by a PAC bigwig who pointed out they had contracted for a show that was 5-minutes longer. 
Sure enough, at the end of that "encore,"time, they both stopped in mid-sentence, waved and left the stage.
(Click on the photos and links for more details).
What a delightful and zany evening. Thanks for stopping by.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Picture this...."

My Photo Group had a demonstration of portrait lighting on Saturday.

I am pleased I drove to Summerville to attend.

A nice small group as Gary set up his lights and a reflector in a nice size meeting place in Coastal Coffee Roasters.

Had not been in here before and saw a weekend Farmer's Market was clearing out as we arrived.

Gary Eaton pointed out the key light (strobe with a reflector umbrella), and the glowing "hair light"

It did just as you could guess, placing emphasis on the hair to show texture as well as separating it from the background.

A white reflector added as a "fill light" to make sure the shadows were not too deep and dark.

We asked if the vivid background of empty coffee bean bags would be "too busy?"

Gary showed how a wide opened aperture on the camera would cause the bags to blur.

He controlled that blur by moving back or closer to the subject.

We would look at the back of his camera to see the effects of the lighting and positioning after each shot.

He described each step in the process as he balanced the light input, shutter speed and effects on the blurred background.

Starting with shooting film in the 1970s, he explained that now we could look at a digital image right away.

With film, he would shoot multiple images while bracketing exposures to get just what he wanted.

Each of us had a turn posing as the others made note of why and how Gary was tweaking the desired results.

Truly a demo as opposed to a lecture.

We would ask why and he would show us alternatives.

As usual, I used my newspaper experience by stepping back and capturing the whole overall scene.

Gary would show us the small image on the camera back and later, he would take the time to finesse the image into his final version.
These he later posted on the Photo Group's Facebook page.

I was pleased the way Gary had positioned me and his instructions to lean one way or the other to make his lighting work on my face.

Usually, I am on the other side of the camera so I knew that he had an image in mind and, by following his directions, together we would create a pleasing result.

In my case, I now had a current bearded photo that I could use to send out to Casting Directors looking for people to be selected as an Extra or BG (Back Ground actor).

Several tv shows - and a movie with Jamie Lee Curtis -  are being filmed in Charleston and I have appeared already in some and hope to be chosen for more.

Cameras are not allowed on set so this was a good opportunity to have some new images to send when I apply for a casting call.

Oh, did I mention the Coastal Coffee Roasters also houses Oak Road Brewing?

I had visited the Summerville brewhouse when on my quest to sample all 23 local craft beer breweries in the Charleston area.

I had visited the 23rd one - Commonhose Aleworks - on O'Hair Street in the Park Circle area the second week it had opened.

I am diligent so I noted the addition of many new vats at Oak Road.

Brewmaster & COO Brian Cox told me they had increased their capacity 10 X and were now distributing kegs all around the Summerville and Charleston area.

The t-shirt they had for sale touts the "drink local" concept and continues to promote growth among the growing local brewers population and their efforts.

The photographers who had gathered for the demo wandered in and carried pints back next door.

We are very supportive of a worthy cause.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

Thanks for following my blog and today's "twofer" of a photo session and sippin' some freshly brewed cold suds.

Click on Brewery to see what I had to say as I visited all of our local craft beer makers sites and sampled their wares.

Stop by often and tell your friends.


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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Super Bowl MONDAY breakfast....

 OK. The Super Bowl LII is over.

It was an exciting game and the winner was in doubt as the scoring went back and forth.

No "blow out" here.

Quarterbacks - as usual - drew the most attention and the Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Most Valuable Player (MVP)... both for his passing and for his catching!

Yes, I was among the millions who enjoyed a pizza during the game.

Have no idea how many saved a slice for breakfast the next day.

I DO enjoy some cold pizza.

Along with scrambled egg (whites) and a peeled banana.

Watching my figure.

Here's the magic moment when Nick caught the TD pass.

Fast forward to Nick and the ride he caught with Mickey at the Magic Kingdom.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

No, I did not take the last two pictures. Found them online.

Could not be at home eating pizza AND be at the game.

And, I was not invited to "Go to Disneyland!"

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Get up outta your seats!

 Went to see Pink Martini at the Gaillard the other night.

Had enjoyed them before, right after we had elected a new Mayor.

He was invited to come up and play a song on the piano and later led a Conga Line through the gorgeous place!

That time I did not fall in line behind the Mayor but I did send him a photo and received a thank you on his City letterhead.

I decided to take a "selfie" as we waited for the show to begin.

Remembering my missed opportunity before, I hoped I could get more involved with the 10-piece band.

Boy, did I ever!

Shortly after they started, an invitation was issued to "the ladies in the audience" to come onstage to dance a number.

Many accepted the offer and streamed up the steep steps on each side.

I hoped there would be a chance for us guys to also climb up there.

A bit later, another offer was made for couples to come up and dance behind the band - a much larger space - so up I went.

The view from the stage was great.

I liked being behind - and among -  the band for some outtasight angles as they played.

Pink Martini's lead singer Storm Large belted out several tunes as we admired the scene from her viewpoint.

A fun, special offer that was gladly accepted.
I can't ever recall being onstage in such a beautiful setting.

Not that I am onstage that often.

Once, years ago, while chairing a tourism conference in Missouri in a small hall, I tapped the mic and said: "Ahem, can you hear me in the back?"

A male voice loudly bellowed from a curtain behind me "Yeah, yes I can."

It was really cool to look at the musicians and the audience in the huge hall from a VERY different viewpoint.

The drummer caught my eye and I trained my phone cam on him.

I shuffled around in my stage right corner, peeked into the curtained wings and soaked in a satisfying moment.

I HAVE been backstage at the Music Farm, coming down the stairs from the Greenroom where the performers had idled and peeked onstage.

But, no "peeking" this time. Right out there among them!

And, yes, the "traditional" Conga line invitation later was announced and the audience members queued up and filled the aisles.

Eventually, they ended up crisscrossing the stage.

Maybe a Mayor was needed to organize and lead the bouncing, swaying procession?

Needless to say, that audience-involved activity was the finale of the show.

It was easier than usual to exit and head to my car.

Here are some additional photos from that delightful evening.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

End of the year!

The Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve (NYE),  are bookends for the year.

Well, at least, the last of one year and the first of the new one.

A December 25 treat for my cat was a toy I found online that fascinates her.

It actually lives up to the excited hype that describes "hours of fun for kitty."

Well, more like short stretches of a few minutes, but she does keep coming back for more.

These impulse buys don't always work out this good.

Still in the holiday mood,  I try to attend the annual NYE (New Year's Eve) "drop in" held downtown for the year's crop of retirees at the Post and Courier, at the paper's offices downtown on Columbus Street.

A nice buffet - with cake - is set up in the paper's large Conference Room on EOY (End Of Year) as close as possible to New Year's Eve.

I worked at the paper only 8 years as opposed to retirees I chat with at this event each year who were there 30 - 40 years or more.

The event is held from 1 pm to 3 pm so I usually opt for the photographer's reserved spot when I see it is empty.

Old habits die hard as I remember being a staff photographer for the San Deigo Union-Tribune Metro daily in southern California back in the 1960s. We were known to park anywhere we wanted when covering breaking news and deadlines were approaching!

I took my annual tour of the building and on the 3rd floor, walked out of the cafeteria to get a view of the back of the buildings going up at the Courier Square.

That was a new scene from the outdoor dining area.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Please come by again. I'll be here.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Thinking outside of the (pizza) box...

 Joan Perry, a longtime friend - and fellow blogger - notified me about a new catering service being introduced by Mellow Mushroom.

She and I both were going to a "preview" at the Mellow's Avondale store to see what new food treats they would be offering along with their famed pizzas.

This store was converted a few years ago from a community movie theater. It's long and narrow and there still is a balcony upstairs above the entrance.

The balcony has comfortable table seating and a semi-circle table had been set up with a tasty array of the new catering menu.

Salads to the left and sandwiches to the right. I happened to be standing near the table as Karen Tassinari, Director of Catering, came over to open the neatly arranged covered boxes of samples.

She smiled and said, "You are at the front of the line."

I picked up a plate and followed her as she opened and described the contents of soups, signature salads, and sandwiches.

Karen's card says she oversees catering there, King Street, North Charleston and Summerville.

Joan arrived as I sat at the table, looking over my choices.

She picked her favorites and came back to sit next to me and we compared our plates. We each chose a glass of the house red wine.

I said the baby kale, mixed with young spinach salad was tasty.

Joan said she had won a raffle recently and Mellow Mushroom provided a diverse catered lunch for 25 of her hospital volunteers at Roper-St. Francis.

Joan made it a first-come group because she had many more volunteers.

I was pleased she had notified me of this preview in Avondale.

I noticed a gentleman seated nearby who seemed to be answering questions about the foods. When I introduced myself, I found he was Todd LeBlanc, the chef who had designed the foods, in from Mellow Mushrooms's corporate headquarters in Atlanta.

Joan told Todd about the 25-person lunch that was catered and how pleased she was to have won the drawing. He thanked her for her interest in doing a follow-up to the source.

We all agreed this was a much better week to have such event rather than earlier during our ice and snow storm.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter Weather in the Lowcountry..

We watched on tv as the icy, snow-laden weather streamed down from Canada.

It happens every year and we were somewhat smug that it usually doesn't come this far south.

I mean, we are described as "sub-tropic" and we have palm trees.

My yard has almost a dozen of them.

How South can you get?! Miami-like.

Oh, I heeded the drastic warnings and dire forecasts.

Oh boy, did I!

I realized my plants needed to be tended to.

Last year I had purchased a simple, $50 clear, plastic hothouse online from Amazon, just in case I ever needed to protect my smaller deck plants.

A l00-watt incandescent light bulb could be plugged in if additional heat protection was needed.
There was a brief - but heavy - snowfall in February 2014.

That reminded me that in 2010, Wallaby was my cat when we had some snow. He was an outside cat and he itched to go check this.

Wallaby galloped bravely down the snow-covered front steps and quickly realized this was NOT the "outside" he remembered.

He was out only a few minutes and raced back up the stairs, giving me a look that he did not appreciate whatever joke I was trying to pull! I think he also wanted longer legs.

With that quickly melting snowfall, things improved overnight, the palm trees popped back up as the snow melted and the silly Wallaby cat was ready - and eager - to be outside again.

The weathermen mentioned that previous brief snow - and the one in Hugo Year 1989 -  but warned this was a Snowmagedden Storm and we needed to make sure faucets were dripping and cross our fingers that the power (and heat!) did not go out when ice burdened limbs and power lines snapped.

This storm started late Tuesday with rain.

Lots of it, freezing as it hit the ground. I draped a sheet over the exposed plants and switched on the warming light bulb.

Wednesday I mainly looked out at the blanket of snow, snug inside and marveling at the amount that had fallen.

The excited weather people pegged it at just under 6-inches and Carolina drivers were hearing about the threat of "black ice."

That shocker extended all the way down to Tallahassee, Florida so this "climate change" was for real.

I had overlooked some items left outside on the deck and saw now I had a pair of "snowshoes."

During the day, some snow melted in the sunshine but quickly re-froze at night, creating treacherous slippery patches.

This was NOT going to be a brief, chilly inconvenience.

Projected temps for the next few days were going to be below freezing.

Even to a low of 16 degrees!

My slowly dripping faucet was still keeping my pipes from freezing.

Hardy younger neighbors had never hesitated to go and romp in the snow while it was still falling.

Note the socks used as gloves!

I could hear a few cars crunching their way past my house that reminded me of the year I had lived up in Minnesota.

Hmmm, were there oleanders that far north?

After venturing out into my yard on Thursday, I listened closely to traffic conditions and decided on Friday to attend a quarterly luncheon of the Post and Courier Retirees Gang.

I called and learned the restaurant had been closed since the storm struck but had re-opened Friday morning.

A slow and careful drive to Liberty Tap Room in Mt Pleasant was uneventful. Whew.

Stepped inside and saw the Liberty staff had arranged our meeting space to accommodate the 15-20  guys who usually attended.

I saw one other retiree and, soon, two more joined us.

Instead of messing up the neat setup, we sat at a table of four and listened to staffers tell us their snow and ice stories and we shared ours.

My situation at home was fairly close to the others. We all were concerned and were careful driving.

But a few close calls were cited as other drivers drove as if there was no ice and we all agreed, right now slipping and sliding, was a fact of life.

Because I did not lose power, my home was toasty comfortable, and my cat just took it for granted.

She had no interruption of her Kibble, things looked the same for her and her cat naps were the usual 16-hours a day.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

A change in the weather did not really alter what I was doing.

I did scrape the snow and ice off my deck and shook the snow off the sheet I had placed on the larger plants.

Then, I unzipped the small clear plastic greenhouse.

I turned off the bulb that had kept it warm inside.
and was rewarded with the sight of a fresh blooming flower.

That was $50 well spent for the plants.

Below are some other random snow photos, including one when my station wagon almost disappeared during the one year I lived in Minnesota.

While living in Minnetonka, I was offered a job in the Florida Division of Tourism.

They asked if I wanted to come down and check it out.

I laughed and said I accept the job sight-unseen. No hesitation.

The job was in Florida and I had just spent a year where Winter was invented!

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